Chertoff says non-Mex­i­can il­le­gals slowed

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jerry Seper

Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary Michael Chertoff on Aug. 23 said the gov­ern­ment has all but shut down the flowof non-Mex­i­can il­le­gal aliens into the United States with up­graded border se­cu­rity and an in­crease in de­ten­tion beds.

Mr. Chertoff said thedepart­ment has turned a long-stand­ing “catc­hand-re­lease” pro­gram into one of “catch-and-re­move.”

“Iwant­to­be­care­ful­not­tode­clare vic­tory,” Mr. Chertoff said, adding that alien smug­glers were not ex­pected to give up lu­cra­tive crim­i­nal en­ter­prises they have op­er­ated for more than a decade.

“But what we have done is be­gin­ning to work. It is en­cour­ag­ing, and it is some­thing that ought to in­spire us to con­tinue to push for­ward.”

Mr. Chertoff, joined by U.S. Border Pa­trol Chief David Aguilar and John Tor­res, di­rec­tor of the Of­fice of De­ten­tion and Re­moval at U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment (ICE), said 99 per­cent of the non-Mex­i­can il­le­gal aliens now caught at the South­west border are de­tained for de­por­ta­tion to their home coun­tries. He said the catc­hand-re­move pro­gram has served as a de­ter­rent to il­le­gal mi­gra­tion by non-Mex­i­cans.

Of the 1,055 non-Mex­i­cans ar­rested at the border dur­ing the week of Aug. 7 to 13, seven were re­leased. Last year, he said, only 34 per­cent of the non-Mex­i­can il­le­gal aliens —know­nas other-than-Mex­i­can, or OTMs— were de­tained for de­por­ta­tion. Nearly 2,100 OTMs were de­tained at the border in May.

Chief Aguilar said de­creases in the ap­pre­hen­sion of il­le­gals al­lows the Border Pa­trol to ex­pand op­er­a­tions­be­cause­agentsno­longer­ar­erequired to work eight-hour shifts to process them. “Be­cause we’re de­tain­ing them, the flow is down. If the flow is down,that­givesus­greater­ca­pac­ity to ad­dress a larger por­tion of the­bor­der,”he­said,addingth­at­fewer mi­grants have been spot­ted at tra­di­tion­al­stagin­gar­eas­inMex­ico,where thou­sands daily seek to hookup­with smug­glers to cross the border.

End­ing the so-called catch-an­drelease pol­icy was a ma­jor goal of thedepart­ment’sSe­cureBorder Ini­tia­tive, a mul­ti­year plan to se­cure U.S. borders and re­duce il­le­gal bor­der­cross­ing.The ini­tia­tive rais­es­the num­ber of agents to pa­trol the na­tion’s borders, ex­pands de­ten­tion and re­moval ca­pa­bil­i­ties, up­grades tech­nol­ogy, and in­creases in­te­rior en­force­ment of U.S. im­mi­gra­tion laws.

The ma­jor­ity of il­le­gal aliens caught along the 1,951-mile South­west border are Mex­i­can na­tion­als, who are re­turned im­me­di­ately to their home coun­try. OTMswere not be­ing de­tained be­cause pro­cess­ing them­took­toomuchtime­and­toofew de­ten­tion beds were avail­able.

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